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The top 10 coffee shops without WiFi in Toronto

Posted by Erinn Beth Langille / April 3, 2014

coffee wifi torontoThe top coffee shops without WiFi in Toronto are part of an increasingly rare category. Coffee shops have become extended offices for freelancers and workaholics; places to get wired and wired up. Thankfully, there are a few (and great) options that stay relatively laptop zombie-free, for those who want to have their coffee sans internet. Coffee, chatter, newspapers and books circulate with a kind of freedom: seats open faster, people relax. The energy doesn't just move between plug and computer, but all around - a café experience with less distraction and more potential interaction.

Here's my list of the top coffee shops without WiFi in Toronto.

Sam James
Sam James does his best to keep the focus on coffee and conversation by getting rid of the assumption that a great coffee shop has to have office-like tables and free WiFi. He's proved you can have a booming business with perches, open space and benches that let people stop, chat, sip, reflect, and move on. Maybe that's why the coffee he serves and roasts is called Cut Coffee; he wants to cut out the BS.

Manic Coffee
A WiFi-less café experience is at the heart of Manic Coffee. It's a warm and inviting space, and the coffee is fantastic. Sure, there are people working on occasion - but they are also talking, reading books, and engaging in the world around them.

Moonbean Café
Maybe it's the overarching chill vibe of Kensington Market (certainly, there are more WiFi-free cafés concentrated in that neighbourhood than elsewhere in Toronto), but it doesn't seem like Moonbean even considered getting WiFi - they were too busy microroasting great beans and providing a relaxing atmosphere.

Bulldog Coffee
Bulldog's Stuart Ross has always done things his way. One of those things is no WiFi at his respectable and long-standing café - even though it's just blocks from Ryerson, and serves as a real beacon for the student neighbourhood. Perhaps they, too, are sick of feeling pressure to make every café stop into a work opportunity, and just want to sit back and relax. Ross lets his customers do just that.

Broadview Espresso
Conversation abounds at Broadview Espresso, where owners have chosen to keep it unplugged. The variety of cozy seating inside, and the warm-weather patio seating outside, add to the relaxed feel that pervades the place.

Wallace Espresso
Newcomer Wallace Espresso set out to be the Junction Triangle's favourite neighbourhood drop-in coffee joint, and it's achieved just that. There's limited seating, but the owner/baristas are kind and chatty and make great coffee, so you'll find little opposition to lingering, sipping and sharing thoughts.

(Louie's) Casa Acoreana
Paris has Café de Flore, we have Casa Acoreana: Both are great, famous cafés on corner lots, perfect for people-watching and full of colourful characters. The difference? The French have booze and perfect omelettes; we get fine coffee and candy. (Neither has WiFi.)

Yorkville Espresso Bar
Yorkville Espresso Bar's proximity to the Toronto Reference library may be the reason the shop doesn't bother with WiFi. It's free and easy over there, but at the coffee shop you can drink a coffee while reading, and you also won't get shushed if a conversation gets amped up.

Sublime
Don't you think the name speaks volumes? Its environment speaks volumes too - lounging chairs, an impressive selection of vinyl available to buy or listen to (mostly jazz and blues), and good coffee. All that chillaxing, and no WiFi.

Cherry Bomb
Roncesvalles family favourite Cherry Bomb has been WiFi free since its inception, and for good reason - the staff don't have the room for laptoppers occupying the prime real estate, or the time to dole out passwords and electricity when they're busy filling coffee orders and baking up the best croissants.

Thanks to Focus: Life Gear by TRIDENT for sponsoring this post. Focus: Life Gear by TRIDENT is a fashion line that blocks your mobile connectivity, allowing you to embrace a lifestyle of focus.Focus Trident

What did I miss? Add your favourite WiFi-free cafes to the comments below.

Photo by Jesse Milns

Discussion

10 Comments

Joey replying to a comment from Joseph / April 3, 2014 at 04:09 am
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"What's the point?"

Um, the point was to make a list of coffee shops that don't have wifi. None of these coffee shops have wifi. Mission = successful.

Personally, I've found that cafes with wifi fill up with well meaning people who intend on finishing their thesis/book report/screenplay/etc but quickly end up dicking around on facebook or 2048 or another flappybird clone.
Sean / April 3, 2014 at 04:16 am
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Good to know. I'm sharing this to many people who can go on with life without the WiFi crowd hogging tables.

@ Rita, you are spot on with your comments. :-)
cathie replying to a comment from Rita Book / April 3, 2014 at 09:33 am
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I get your point but its interesting to note that this behaviour has gone on in Europe for years, long before the interwebs existed. People would buy one coffee or one beer and plunk themselves down in that establishment for hours - reading, chatting, etc. It was universally accepted social behaviour. They still do it over there. But it is indeed sad to walk into a Starbucks and see everyone with earphones over their ears, staring at a computer screen. No interaction at all. People's social skills are bad enough as it is.
Kat / April 3, 2014 at 09:42 am
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I'm all for wifi-free cafes as a nice alternative. But a person sitting for five hours conversing in a wifi-less cafe is basically the same as a person sitting for five hours on their laptop in a wifi cafe. Table hogging and loitering happen everywhere.
bob / April 3, 2014 at 10:19 am
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The Sovereign is a great coffee shop and pretty certain it does not have wifi http://www.blogto.com/cafes/the-sovereign-toronto
donnysdayoff / April 3, 2014 at 11:32 am
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Castle board game cafe also doesn't have WiFi. And though you really shouldn't need WiFi if you're playing board games anyway, its kind of cool to know that it pretty much forces you to focus on beating your friends at settlers of catan instead of looking at cat videos.
Just a thought / April 3, 2014 at 01:39 pm
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Just because there's no wifi doesn't mean that there won't be people in there working on their thesis/novel/screenplay on a laptop - these things technically don't require wifi... I see people with laptops at Manic all the time.
RCH / April 4, 2014 at 11:59 am
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Belljar on Dundas West is a great spot without wifi too!
Andrew / April 5, 2014 at 05:22 pm
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also - The Belljar
msok / July 10, 2014 at 06:36 pm
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In Seattle's Capitol Hill area, there's a coffee shop that has this slogan: "weekdays: free wifi, weekends: wifi-free". I think it's an interesting policy, and one that I endorse. Another way of keeping the endless surfing/table hogging down is to have SLOW wifi.

Of course, nothing can stop someone from setting up a personal hotspot with their cellphone, but this is fine since having to pay for data keeps the idle web surfing down to a minimum.

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